Secret Games (6)

The faint light of dawn was just streaking across the sky when Koko left her room for the gym downstairs. She had had a very rough night with sleep eluding her. 

 Feeling tensed and stressed, she decided to work out to relieve some of the pent up energy inside her.
 She jogged for a few minutes in the courtyard to warm up before heading for the gym at the backyard of the compound. As she worked on the treadmill, her mind was full of the same thoughts that had kept her awake all night.
 What was she going to do about Tobi and his difficult request? 
 'Request? It's more like blackmail,' she thought as she slowed down her pace, her mouth twisted in disgust.
 His words kept ricocheting in her head like an echo.
 "I've asked my Dad for money to start my own business. I've been on it for sometime now and I'm not making any headway with him. You know how stubborn he can be. That's where you come in: convince him to give me the money and these pictures will be destroyed," he had said.
 "Are you blackmailing me, Tobi?" she had asked. She could not believe he would do that to her; she thought he was different from his siblings, more friendly and kind. But how wrong she was!
 He had smirked. "Call it whatever you want. I want money and you're going to help me get it. Then I give you the pictures and we are even. It's a simple deal."
 "Simple? You call getting N250 million Naira from your father a simple affair? Do you think he will dole out that huge sum of money just like that?" she had queried.
 "Why not? He's a wealthy man and can afford it. Besides, I see it as getting part of my inheritance before he dies..."
 She could not believe what she was hearing.
 "Look here, Tobi. This is not right. You're blackmailing me, your stepmum? Don't you have any conscience?"
 He had laughed mockingly. "See who's talking about conscience. An unfaithful wife like you! You're cheating on my Dad and you sit there and talk about conscience? Ha! Do you have any idea what the old man will do to you if he finds out about your affair? The young lady he was seeing before you, got kicked out for something less. I can just imagine his reaction when he finds out his precious little wifey has been sleeping with his manager!"
 Koko had glanced anxiously round the lounge which was filling up with guests.
 "Lower your voice, Tobi. Someone could hear you."
 He had got up abruptly. "Three days. For you to decide to 'play ball' or your secret games with your lover boy over there will be revealed to the whole world!"
 And with that, he had walked away...
 Now as she worked out in the gym, she wondered what she should do. She had a short time to make up her mind before the deadline.
 If only he did not have those pictures, she would have called his bluff. She had insisted on seeing them and he had obliged by showing her a few on his mobile phone. The were really 'bad'- there were shots of her hugging and kissing Chuks, another where he had been carrying her out of the water, both of them laughing.
 Koko wondered who could have taken the pictures. It was a public beach with many beach goers having fun in the water that day. It could be anybody.
 She sighed then stepped down from the machine, wiped her face with a towel. As she left the gym to return to her bedroom to prepare for the day, she knew what had to be done. 
 There was no way she would let Chief see those photos. She worried what would happen to both of them especially Chuks. She loved him very much and did not want anything bad to happen to him. There was a mean and vicious side to her husband which surfaced whenever he felt badly treated or betrayed.
 Who knew what he could, in anger do to the young man who dared have an affair with his wife behind his back?

 One evening, some days later, she brought up Tobi's issue with Chief.
 "Absolutely not!" he stated. "Are you out of your senses, Koko? You want me to give that amount of money to that rascal? So he can squander it on women and booze and God knows what else? No way!"
 She tried to cajole him.
 "Darling, Tobi seems to have changed. He's more mature now. Maybe, starting his own business will make him more responsible."
 "Tobi, responsible?" he scoffed. "That boy can't change. His late mother spoilt him as the last born. The only thing he's good at is having fun with my money. I won't give him a penny more than his monthly allowance. I'm even considering stopping that soon since he refuses to do any work."
 "I still believe you should give him a chance," she maintained.
 "I'm surprised you're supporting him on this issue, Koko. As his stepmother, you should be advising him on changing his bad ways and living more responsibly, not encouraging me to waste more money on him. I don't want to hear anymore on this matter so drop it, ok?" he said in a pissed tone of voice.

  She got the same answer other times she raised the issue. "What's your interest in this matter? You're even bugging me more than the silly boy himself!" said Chief one afternoon during lunch.

"Try harder," Tobi ordered whenever she gave him feedback. "My Dad is stubborn; convincing him to part with the money won't be easy. Use your feminine charm on him, whatever. Just get me what I want!"

 The way things were going, there seemed to be only one way out of the problem. She discussed it with her friend Osas when she came visiting one Saturday afternoon.

 They sat sipping cold drinks by the poolside at the backyard, some distance away from the main building. 

 "Chuks and I are planning to run away," she confided in her friend.

 "What?" said Osas, almost spilling her drink on her blouse.

 "We want to leave Nigeria and start our lives afresh in another country."

 "Why? Dating him is one thing. But running away with him? What about Chief? He's still your husband. You just can't leave like that as if you're a single lady."

 "Says who?" she retorted. "Why must I stay with Chief? I don't love him. I married him for his money. It wasn't bad at the beginning, being with him but since the accident, life with him is boring and exhausting. It's draining me and I feel I'm wasting my life here. I'm too young to be tied to a man in a wheelchair. I need to have my fun, go out, attend parties, go shopping with my man, go clubbing. Live life. I can't do that with Chief. I'm missing out on lots of things living in this house."

 "But Chief loves you very much," Osas pointed out. "I still remember how he came to my house years ago to plead with me to convince you to accept his marriage proposal. He'll be devastated if you dump him and take off with another man."

 "He's tough; he will get over it. Besides, with his wealth, he won't be alone for long. I think it's the best decision. It's either that or that stupid Tobi exposes us. I don't want to be at the receiving end of Chief's wrath. It's not a nice place to be," said Koko, taking a sip of her drink.

 Her mind drifted to Chuks, of their meeting in a few days where their future lives together would be discussed and the plans they still had to make to make their dreams a reality...

  Will they be able to get away with their plan? Details will be revealed in the concluding part of the story coming soon. Don't miss it!

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